Cancer Causing Chemicals are you Harming yourself?
Cancer causing chemicals in your skincare products…
Nowadays, we tend to overlook the ingredients contained in the personal care products we often use, thinking that governmental agencies are protecting us from harm. You would be shocked to know this is far from the truth. In fact, there are many chemicals still used in personal care products which are known to be harmful to our bodies in a number of ways. This article will explain the most common ingredients found within commercial skin care products and their risks to your health if you come into contact with them.
Firstly 1,4-dioxane is a cancer causing chemicals linked to organ toxicity and may be found in up to 25,000 (22%) skincare products such as shampoo, soaps, moisturisers and other commercial cosmetics. This chemical (impurity) is often a result of contamination during the manufacturing process. This has been documented by the Environmental Working Group (1). The national toxicology program also reported in 2005 that 1,4-dioxane is a carcinogen and can cause cancer (2).
SLS (Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate) – is one of the most common toxic soap ingredients added to soaps, shampoos shower gels and much more. When SLS bonds with other common soap ingredients, it becomes a carcinogenic nitrosamine. One of the reasons SLS is so dangerous is that it permeates your skin very easily, and also makes your skin more permeable to all the other chemicals contained in the product. Furthermore, tests on animals show that SLS causes skin irritation, leads to organ toxicity, promotes hormonal disruptions and increases your susceptibility to mood disorders (3).
Diethanolamine (DEA) and its derivatives are extremely easily absorbed through your skin, and it combines with the nitrate preservatives commonly added to soaps to create nitrosodiethanolamine (NDEA). A wide range of studies have shown that NDEA is a potent carcinogenic cancer causing chemicals, and it is most strongly linked to the development of kidney and liver cancers. In addition, pregnant women should be especially cautious of DEA, as it is capable of interfering with your body’s ability to absorb a nutrient called choline. Choline is a quarternary ammonium salt and it has three important functions which are structural integrity of cell membranes, signalling roles for cell membranes, cholinergic (nerve) transmission (acetylcholine synthesis) and a major part of methylation. Unborn children need choline if their brains are to develop properly. All of these concerns are also likely to apply to triethanolamine (TEA), which is a derivative of DEA. If you are pregnant or nursing you should definitely avoid this and all other toxic ingredients contained within non organic cosmetics (4)
Formaldehyde is commonly found in cosmetics, and so are chemicals that release formaldehyde (e.g. diazolidinyl urea). As would be expected from any of the toxic ingredients listed here, Formaldehyde is a chemical to avoid. Formaldehyde weakens the immune system, leading to a reduced resistance to disease, and it can also cause respiratory disorders, chronic fatigue, frequent headaches, and an irregular heartbeat (5). Further information and evaluation of all known data led the IARC to reclassify formaldehyde as a known human carcinogen (6).
Parabens, are common preservatives contained in personal care products they’re xenoestrogens. They confuse the body into thinking its estrogen. Studies suggest a link between xenoestrogens and breast cancer. A review article showed that breast cancer tissue was laden with parabens up to 99% in the samples investigated, more cancer causing chemicals (7).
‘Fragrance’, Almost all bars of soap contain added fragrances in order to make them more enjoyable to use in the bath or shower, but this by no means is limited to soap. However, printing ‘fragrance’ on a soap or other cosmetic label can be extremely misleading, as this often means that up to thousands of different chemicals have been added in order to create the special smell of the soap or cosmetic and may contain cancer causing chemicals. Fragrance ingredients increase your risk of developing a wide range of medical problems, including chronic dizziness, nausea, rashes, depression, respiratory distress and severe headaches. On a scale of one to ten, the Environmental Working Group rates fragrance (8) as deserving of an eight!
Finally, PEG-6 is another one of these extremely common toxic ingredients, and it regularly contains toxic impurities (such as ethylene oxide) that can cause a wide range of dangerous conditions. Studies show that exposure can cause a large increase in your likelihood of developing breast cancer (9, 10)
Look out for these ingredients in common skin care and personal care products and steer clear of them. Now tell me about your thoughts and experiences by commenting below.
- EWG, 2007 – include reference link Environmental Working Group 2007 Impurities of concern in personal care products. Available at www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/research/Impurities.php
- Report on carcinogens, 11th edition, U.S. Department of health and services. Public Health Service. National Toxicology Program. January 2005. http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/…/r…/eleventh/profiles/s080diox.pdf